District 200 Board President Jacques Conway testified last week in the child pornography trial of R&B singer R. Kelly that the girl in the sex tape is a former Oak Park and River Forest High School student who was a basketball player for the OPRF girls' team when he was a coach.
Conway, a former Oak Park cop and OPRF resource officer who also testified at Kelly's grand jury trial in 2002, spent about an hour on the stand answering questions from defense attorneys and prosecutors. Wednesday Journal talked to the Dist. 200 board president by phone shortly after his testimony.
Conway, a River Forest resident, told Wednesday Journal the alleged victim dropped out of school after her sophomore year and also attended OPRF as a freshman.
He said the girl never talked to him about any relationship with the singer, who is accused of videotaping himself having sex with the unidentified girl when she was 14 or 15 years old. The only thing he knew was that R. Kelly was supposedly the victim's godfather, Conway recalled.
He said he could tell it was the girl by her face and the necklace and cross she wore around her neck in the video. Conway recalled seeing the video for the first time shortly after it became public in 2002. He added that he remembers seeing R. Kelly at a girls' basketball game toward the end of the 2001 season, but never saw him at the high school any other time.
Conway also remembered that the girl's mother was also a student at OPRF sometime in the 1980s, but doesn't know what happened to her as an adult. He said he didn't know what happened to the victim after she left OPRF.
The alleged victim, now 23, who maintains that she's not the girl in the tape, attended OPRF in the early 2000s. Conway was then a coach for the girls' basketball team at OPRF.
Conway wouldn't go into any additional details about the case, saying he could be recalled as a witness. But as a former cop, Conway, who was a detective with the department, said in cases similar to this, it's not unusual to see a male family friend accused of such a crime.
"This case has become such a big thing, but this sort of thing happens a lot. Children are easily persuaded and influenced. It's usually a relative-father, uncle or somebody-someone who could be trusted by children," he said.